Nobody wants to live in a house
that has no windows, oh, maybe somebody, but nobody I know. Come
to that, nobody I think I'd even want to know. (But you never
Easily obtainable evidence
demonstrates that Jackson Hole sports many acres of window glass.
It's a lot harder to begin to know how many birds are killed
on said windows each year, but it is significant. And a pity:
to fly for sometimes thousands of miles only to crash into something
you can't recognize as a hazard and die.
Well, why do birds do that anyway ? Birds fly into windows because the
reflection in the glass entices them into believing that there's a safe
passage for them. The glass mirrors a safe flight path already traversed.
Some of these tragedies can never be averted. Birds that become familiar
with their environs generally can avoid being injured or killed; it's the
migrant who has never been there before and is in a hurry to get somewhere
Transients. And mostly in migration, for a few weeks in spring and fall.
Not often a persistent problem if you regret seeing birds die on your windows.
Here are some remediations you might want to consider during migration
periods, as now:
1. Put a lamp in the window
with a wattage sufficient to break up that reflection, that mirror
effect, during those hours of daylight when the sun angle creates
it on your particular window.
2. Put up temporary warnings
THAT CAN MOVE ABOUT in front of the particular windows. Hang
ribbons of cloth, plastic, aluminum foil, pie plates; something
that will flutter in any breeze and can alert the birds to an
3. Some have had success with
irregular patterns of Post-Its stickers on silhouettes of falcons
posted on the windows. We haven't but it's easy to try.
4. Another approach is to hang
blade plastic netting loosely over the window. Screen mesh size.
5. Of course there's an obscure
theory: the dirty windows approach. It certainly helps.
6. Finally, you could dance
around in front of your windows, following the sun. Almost guaranteed.
Another killer of birds - as
well as small mammals, such as chipmunks and squirrels - are
domestic cats. Best estimates are hundreds of millions of birds
each year. And more than a billion of small mammals. It's simply
in a cat's nature. How well-fed they are makes no difference
whatsoever. They gotta hunt.
Cats aren't a natural part of North American ecosystems and so aren't vulnerable
to changes in prey populations; in fact they can actually out compete native
predators for food. Belling really doesn't hamper a cat. And interrupting
an attack almost never allows a captured prey to survive; death occurs
later in almost every instance. Keeping your cat exclusively indoors when
possible is kind to the cat, and kind to wildlife.
On a somewhat related topic,
there's the most unprecedented "attack" by some (usually)
male bird on a particular window. Usually a robin, and not limited
to windows; it can be a vehicle mirror or - if such still exist
- chrome plated hubcap or a bumper. It's hormones. The male sees
his reflection but recognizes a rival. He's programmed to defend
his territory from other males of his species and must do so.
Some birds exhaust themselves, and may perish.
It's a temporary madness, a
combination of mating and a particular sun angle with respect
to the particular reflecting surface. Eliminate or cover up that
mirror for couple of weeks and solve the difficulty.
Bert Raynes Copyright, 1999
used with permission
Bert Raynes writes weekly in
the Jackson Hole News and Guide on
whatever suits his fancy and then throws in a dash of news on
nature and its many ways. Raynes is a longtime observer of man